Cleanup begins after EF-3 tornado rips through Adairsville - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Cleanup begins after EF-3 tornado rips through Adairsville

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The remains of a grocery store in Adairsville, Ga. (Photo: Justin Gray/myfoxatlanta) The remains of a grocery store in Adairsville, Ga. (Photo: Justin Gray/myfoxatlanta)

Officials have confirmed that the tornado that swept through north Georgia on Wednesday was a powerful EF-3 that packed winds of 160 mph.

A tornado is classified as an EF-3 if it has winds of 135-165 mph and is noted for lifting cars and causing damaging to buildings. It can also destroy homes and blow debris away.

The storm touched down six miles southwest of Adairsville and traveled 24.5 miles through Bartow County, according to weather officials.

A massive cleanup has begun in the parts of north Georgia that were battered by the tornado. The powerful system spawned at least one tornado, killing one person in Adairsville.

During a press conference held on Thursday in Adairsville, officials say Bartow County had 95 buildings damaged -- 31 of those destroyed, 17 suffering major damage and 47 suffering minor damage. In Gordon County, 250 structures were damaged. Fannin County had five buildings damaged.

They say one person was killed in Bartow County, and nine were injured. Eight others were injured in Gordon County, and one person was injured in Fannin County.

The Bartow County coroner says 51-year-old Anthony Raines was lying in his bed in his Adairsville mobile home when a tree crashed through the roof.


Joyce Morgan, a wheelchair-bound woman who lived in the same mobile home park as Raines, tells FOX 5 she could feel herself being lifted in the air by the tornado. She said it took all her strength to keep herself in her motorized wheel chair.

Her son says the storm came right through his bedroom, bringing down debris on top of him.

Other residents of the mobile home park returned on Thursday to begin the process of cleaning up.

Four generations of one family credit a homemade storm shelter for saving their lives. The storm shelter was built by a man and his son more than 40 years ago, according to the Baker and Jackson families.

All three homes on their family property were destroyed by the fast-moving storm.

"My dad made the remark that people made fun of us or laughed because we would go in and he said, I bet they won't laugh now,'" said Misty Baker.


The Adairsville Supermarket, which had been a staple in the town since 1958, was left in pieces.

Shopper Stetson Hicks was at the cash register buying cigarettes Wednesday when the storm roared through. The tornado tossed Hicks several feet in the air.

"She started to lay the cigarettes up on the counter and the lights flickered and that was it. The next thing I know, I'm actually down next to the blue dumpster down the road," Hicks said.

When Hicks realized he was alive he quickly became gravely concerned about his wife and 1-year-old son. They were across the street in the Relax Inn motel, which was almost completely flattened by the twister.

Hicks and his family not only survived, they were able to salvage a few belongings from the hotel.

Crispo Patel and her husband own the store. She said that she huddled under the counter during the storm, but flying debris landed on her body and badly bruised her arm.


Workers inside an Adairsville restaurant had to run for cover when the tornado blew in the windows and the front door of the eatery, and a section of the roof collapsed, destroying the restaurant.

The wife of the owner was inside the restaurant when the tornado hit.

"And I picked her up and she was crying. She could hardly say anything, said the whole store collapsed. I mean, and she was working inside. I said, 'don't cry, just leave the store', and she said she already out the store because there were customers already in it, so three of them get out safely," said the owner.


Utility and emergency crews converged on the area to begin work on restoring power, clearing roads and aiding victims.


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